A regional consultation organised to mark the World Health Day 2018 by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Ramaiah Medical College made a strong call for ensuring universal health coverage (UHC). The event was graced by Mr Ajay Seth, Additional Chief Secretary, Health and Family Welfare, Government of Karnataka who stressed on the importance of working together with all stakeholders to progress towards Universal Health Coverage in the state.
On the occasion of the World Health Day 2018, Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, Regional Director, WHO South-East Asia Region has said that the promise of UHC is bold: that all people can access quality health services, when and where they need them, without suffering financial hardship. “Healthier populations in turn create more productive economies that raise living standards. UHC will help achieve a healthier, more equitable and secure South-East Asia Region,” she added.
“Achieving UHC has the potential to contribute to India’s social and economic growth,” says Dr Henk Bekedam, WHO Representative to India.Commending the government for its recent bold initiatives, Dr Bekedam said, “India is firmly and steadily moving forward on the path to UHC and WHO as a partner is committed to working with the government and other stakeholders in successfully navigating this journey towards a Swastha and Samriddha Bharat (Healthy and Prosperous India).”
The event focused on deliberating on the various facets of UHC and way forward in the country, sharing perspectives from the government, experts, nongovernment Organisations (NGOs), medical colleges, civil service organizations and the private sector. The consultation was also attended by Dr Rathan Kelkar, Commissioner Health & Family Welfare services; Dr Naresh Shetty, President Ramaiah Memorial Hospital; Dr Medha Y Rao, Principal & Dean, Ramaiah Medical College; representatives from WHO and other key stakeholders.
Key speakers at the deliberations included: Dr. Prabhudev Gowda from Government of Karnataka; Dr Sudha Chandrasekhar, Suvarna Arogya Suraksha Trust; Dr Girish from NIMHANS; Dr Suresh Shapeti, PHFI; Dr. Pruthvish from Unicef and Mr Ravindra Reshme representing the civil service organizations. The panel discussion was lively with active participation from the participants on the UHC agenda.
India on the path to UHC
The union budget aims at addressing health holistically through two components: (i) the National Health Protection Mission (NHPM) will cover 100 million poor and vulnerable families up to INR 500 000 per year for secondary and tertiary care, and (ii) strengthening primary health care through 150 000 Health & Wellness Centres. These twin initiatives are programmatic follow-up of the policy road-map provided by India’s National Health Policy 2017, which clearly articulates UHC as a goal. The successful implementation of these programmes would accelerate India’s journey towards ensuring health for all, espcially, the most vulnerable who are pushed into poverty due to high out-of-pocket health expenditure.
About World Health Day 2018
WHO has declared Universal Health Coverage (UHC) as the theme for this year’s World Health Day. Celebrated every year on 7th April, in 2018, the WHO is calling on world leaders to live up to the pledges they made when they agreed the Sustainable Development Goals in 2015, and commit to concrete steps to advance the health of all people. This means ensuring that everyone, everywhere can access essential quality health services without facing financial hardship.